New Study: Uber May Increase Traffic Congestion, Reduces DUIs In Boston
Boston, MA - Numerous studies have been released over the years about the effects of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft on the cities they serve. It has been suggested that services like these both reduce accidents relating to driving under the influence (DUI) and also reduce traffic congestion. In fact, previous research data from CUNY showed that in New York City (no including Staten Island), the apps may have caused a 25% to 35% reduction in alcohol-related car accidents since 2011, when Uber was first introduced to the area. This research was conducted and compared to other similar locations where Uber did not operate during that same time period.
In regards to Uber & Lyft's impact on traffic, the companies have stood by the claim that their services reduce traffic on the roads of cities like Boston. Unlike assertions about DUI-related accidents, a new study suggests the Ubey & Lyft are actually making traffic jams worse than they were before. And many drivers, agree.
One individual went so far as to question, "Why would anyone think they make traffic jams better?"
The premise touted by proponents of the ride-hailing apps' ability to reduce traffic congestion is tied to the idea that less cars are on the road, and some even participate in ride-sharing. The new study focused on the Boston-area refutes this in a rather simple way.
According to the research reported by transit consultant Bruce Schaller, indeed 20% of Uber or Lyft patrons would have driven their own car instead. A separate 20% would have hailed a traditional cab. The remaining 60% would fell into a group which would cause no additional traffic on Boston roads. Instead, they would have taken public transit - like the T, a bus or other train or subway - or they would have walked, biked or wouldn’t have made the journey at all.
The problem, Shaller says, is compounded by the miles driven without passengers in cars, as Uber & Lyft drivers seek out additional fares.
So what does this all mean for public opinion of these apps?
In New York, a new cap is being contemplated for ride-hailing drivers, likely fueled by claims of such traffic nuisances. In Boston, the fate of these apps is up-in-the-air. Do we weigh the value of DUI-accidents against that of traffic jams, or is there a middle-ground that the city can reach to accommodate the positives and mitigate the issues associated with the potential negatives?